Four Sunday mornings ago around this time, I was on the vacation of a lifetime with my family.
I woke up after 2 hours of restless sleep to run away...well, really to find the resort's gym, but I felt like running away.
For the past month, we've been working towards reconciliation. And it seemed that we were doing well.
We spent two days at a waterpark, taking advantage of the last opportunity to use our multi-day passes. As a family, we had fun. Lots of fun.
Home, showers, dinner...you know the routine.
I was clearing the dinner dishes in a white tank top, and he commented that he loves my tan lines. He told me I'm beautiful.
I'm a fair-skinned strawberry-blonde. He married a fair-skinned strawberry-blonde girl almost 13 years ago.
I don't really "tan". I have some color right now, but it will fade.
He meant no harm, but her pictures are always in my mind. The pictures of her fresh from the tanning bed with her fake glow, fake boobs, fake nails, and fake blonde hair. The pictures he couldn't get enough of. The pictures he was willing to risk everything for. Not to mention the countless OW I'll never see a picture of. He admits to 2 others, but I know there are more.
And there I was. Clearing the family table. Fair-skinned. Breasts that nursed our three children for 2 years each. Natural nails that are functional instead of seductive. Hair that I've never colored permanently a day in my life.
We work hard for our money. He works hard to provide our family with access to health insurance. We have a daughter with some significant medical needs, and it costs thousands of dollars each year to provide the supplies she needs to survive.
I've chosen not to squander our resources on myself.
Fall will come. Then winter. My "tan" will fade, and I'll be the same fair-skinned girl I was before.
Before...when he allowed his heart to stray over, and over, and over and over, and...
Will I still be beautiful then? Will he ever see past the surface, and recognize the loyalty? The unconditional love? The dedication? The sacrifice? The woman who exists inside?
The woman who has tried her best to be a good partner to him for all these years.
He asked me...
"Is this how it's going to be for the rest of our lives? I can only be beaten down so much."
I don't know how it's going to be for the rest of our lives. It's only been a month, and I haven't "beaten him down" much, if at all.
I'm doing better at hiding the chaotic chatter that plagues my mind. The heavy weight that has taken up residence inside my chest. The pit in my stomach that won't let me sleep without hearing the cadence of his voice telling other women the things he should have been telling me.
We have young children.
I'm doing better at hiding it.
But, make no mistake.
It is never...EVER...gone.